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Data backbone has arrived

Carly Wiggins is a member of The Learning Network’s Data Team. She is responsible for assuring the Efforts to Outcomes software fulfills its purpose to help monitor and track outcomes across different organizations.

The Learning Network’s new longitudinal data platform arrived this summer. Called Efforts to Outcomes (ETO), this software, provided through Social Solutions, is the data backbone of the Action Networks and the entire Learning Network effort.

Carly Wiggins is the data specialist for ETO and a member of The Learning Network’s Data Team. Based at KRESA’s headquarters on Milham Road, she is responsible for assuring that this highly sophisticated software fulfills its purpose.

The ETO software is designed to track service delivery at several levels: across individual programs, the organizations that run or sponsor those programs, and ultimately the entire Learning Network. According to Wiggins, the ETO database will finally give participating organizations and programs the ability to track and monitor their project outcomes in detail.

“Each program or organization will have its own self-designed small database in the ETO software, with data fields customized to fit its particular needs and structure,” she explains. “At the same time, there will be enough in common in the data fields that we’ll be able to compare apples to apples. We’ll be able to confidentially share data across programs and activities for monitoring, research and evaluation purposes. Long term, we’ll be able to produce confidential aggregate outcome measures for the community scorecard across the entire Learning Network.”

ETO is in the pilot phase of implementation at this point. Wiggins notes that they needed to start small to learn how to best implement the software. “We decided to start with nine service providers in Kalamazoo County that are running home visitation programs for parents who have 0-3 year olds,” she says. “These providers have been collaborating for some time, and they’re eager to enhance their programming with data-based decision making. We’ll begin entering their data in January and then will make whatever changes are needed before we bring another Action Network group on board.”

If all continues to go as planned, eventually service providers, teachers and school administrators, health care providers, program funders and the general public will be able to access data about program outcomes.

“As a community we’ll be able to know what is working well, for whom and why,” Wiggins concludes. “We have the data platform in place and we can move forward on being highly data-informed in decision making. We want to use data to empower organizations to make great decisions that lead to better outcomes for Kalamazoo County.”